RICHMOND (VA) Playing the lottery has been a popular pastime in the Commonwealth of Virginia for quite some time. However, the most recent form of the game has taken on a totally different flare.
The Commonwealth recently instituted a different kind of lottery; one that rewarded a handful of its residents who gained an audience with Queen Elizabeth II during her Virginia visit which began Thursday, May 3, 2007. More than 18,000 people signed up for the lottery, with only 54 available slots. However, each winner was allowed to bring a guest, bringing the number to108, in honor of the original number of settlers to Jamestown.
Virginians rolled out the red carpet for the English monarch and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. The royal couple’s visit commemorates the 400th anniversary of Jamestown and is the first stop in the royal couple’s visit to America.
The Queen made her way to the State Capitol in Richmond today where she addressed the General Assembly. She began her remarks by expressing her sincere sympathy for the families of the Virginia Tech students who lost their lives in the recent shooting incident. The majority of her comments, of course, had to do with the founding of Jamestown – – the focus of her visit. “This 400th anniversary marks the deep friendship that has grown between our two countries,” she said. She went on to say that the friendship that binds the U.S. and England together, far outweighs any minor differences the countries may have encountered over the years.
Following her assembly address, Queen Elizabeth headed to Capitol Square to attend a music festival that was held in her honor. She did what was called “a bit of a walkabout” along the way, openly greeting some of the thousands of people that lined the streets in hopes of catching a glimpse of royalty.
The music festival’s intent was to share some of the state’s diverse musical heritage. Music included gospel, jazz, blues, Native American, and even a little bluegrass music. Groups like No Speed Limit, the Hunt Family Fiddlers, the Richmond Boys Choir, and the Hermitage High School Band performed. Additional performers included legendary musician Ralph Stanley, Wayne Henderson, Jane L. Powell, Carlton Blount, and Adrian Duke. The event, which was open to the general public, ran for several hours. Not even the misty weather managed to dampen the cheerful mood. The area was packed with in excess of 13,000 people.
Following the festival, the Queen and her entourage travelled to Williamsburg where they were scheduled to spend Thursday night. Thousands of additional people lined Williamsburg streets along the entourage’s route. The mist, which had finally given way to a steady, light rain still had no effect on the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered to welcome their English visitors. Oddly enough, at least two of those waving British flags along the way, were actually the Queen’s own subjects who travelled to the U.S. – – of all places – – in hopes of finally gaining a glimpse of their beloved monarch.
On Friday, May 4, 2007, tours are planned at the historic Jamestown site. Tours will include a visit to the Fort as well as to the ship Lady Susan, a review of the archeological dig site and, of course, the Jamestown museum.
On Friday afternoon, the Queen will attend a luncheon at the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg. Following that, her majesty is expected to tour the College of William and Mary where she will meet with students, faculty, and alumni. She will be presented with a special class award from the university during that visit.
Since King William the Third and Queen Mary the Second granted the royal charter that originally established the college in 1693, the visit to the university has long been anticipated by participants on both sides of the ocean. According to the president of the College of William and Mary, it is “an unparalleled thrill for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.”
While Queen Elizabeth is busy in Williamsburg on Friday, her husband, Prince Philip, will be attending events in Norfolk. These will include a luncheon and a tour of Norfolk’s newly opened port site as well as a reception aboard the USS Wisconsin.
Buckingham Palace has announced that Queen Elizabeth II intends to make some kind of gift to the Commonwealth of Virginia in commemoration of the visit and the 400th anniversary of Jamestown.
The royal couple’s plans during their U.S. visit also include a trip to Washington D.C., where a White House dinner will be held in their honor. Additionally, they are expected to attend the Kentucky Derby and visit the NASA Goodard Space Flight Center. Further details will be released as the visit continues.
Anticipation remains high throughout the state as many attempt to catch a glimpse at real royalty and at the monarch whose roots spread as far as “The New World.” According to Virginia’s Governor Timothy M. Kaine “the Royal visit will allow us (the U.S. and England) to make history by marking history and the strong ties between our two countries.”
Resources: Press Release, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia, WVEC TV (Channel 13) News at 5:00 p.m., and WAVY TV (Channel 10)